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Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton MSA’s unemployment rate continues to be highest in state

07.12.12

JULY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

MSA’s unemployment rate continues to be highest in state

BY PAUL LEESON
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 30th- According to labor data provided by the Pennsylvania, Department of Labor and Industry, the region’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate is 8.7 percent, unchanged from the previous report, which was released approximately four weeks before. The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA) includes Lackawanna, Luzerne and Wyoming Counties of Pennsylvania. Twelve months ago the unemployment rate for the region was 9.3 percent.

The unemployment rate in Pennsylvania is 7.4 percent, also unchanged from the previous report. Pennsylvania has a seasonally adjusted civilian labor force of 6,452,000 with 475,000 not working and 5,977,000 with employment. The national unemployment rate is 8.2 percent, rising by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report. The national unemployment rate has decreased by eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. The unemployment rate does not include civilians who unemployment benefits have expired and stopped looking for work.

There are 12,720,000 civilians, increasing by 220,000 from the previous report, in the nation reported to be unemployed. That number also does not include civilians that have exhausted their unemployment benefits and have stopped looking for work. During the past several weeks more than 350,000 long-timed jobless workers have exhausted their unemployment benefits and are no longer counted as unemployed.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA continues to have the highest unemployment rate among the 14 MSA’s within Pennsylvania.

The Philadelphia MSA and the Johnstown MSA are tied for the second highest unemployment rate in the Commonwealth at 8.2 percent. The Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third highest unemployment rate at 8.1 percent. The Williamsport MSA has the fourth highest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 7.7 percent followed by the Reading MSA at 7.5 percent.

The State College MSA has the lowest unemployment rate in Pennsylvania at 5.5 percent. The Lebanon MSA has the second lowest unemployment rate in the state at 6.1 percent, while the Lancaster MSA has the third lowest unemployment rate at 6.2 percent. The Pittsburgh MSA has the fourth lowest unemployment rate at 6.8 percent.

The Scranton/Wilkes-Barre MSA has the fourth largest labor force in Pennsylvania with 286,600 civilians and 25,000 of them are without employment. The Philadelphia MSA has the largest labor force in Pennsylvania at 2,992,800 with 245,400 not working; the Pittsburgh MSA has the second largest labor force at 1,244,100 with 84,500 without jobs; and the Allentown/Bethlehem/Easton MSA has the third largest labor force at 425,900 with 34,500 not working.

The Williamsport MSA has the smallest labor force in Pennsylvania with 62,300 civilians and 4,800 of them have no jobs. The Altoona MSA has the second smallest labor force with 64,900 civilians with 4,500 without employment and the Johnstown MSA is third with a labor force of 67,800 and 5,600 of them are not working.

Lackawanna County has the lowest unemployment rate in the MSA at 8.3 percent, decreasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by eight-tenths of a percentage point from one year ago. The County has a civilian labor force of 108,800, unchanged from the previous report but increasing by 1,800 during the past twelve months. There are 9,100 civilians without employment in Lackawanna County, decreasing by 100 from the previous report but dropping by 600 during the past twelve months.

Luzerne County has the highest unemployment rate in the MSA at 9.0 percent, increasing by one-tenth of a percentage point from the previous report and dropping by four-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months before. Luzerne County has the largest civilian labor-force in the MSA at 163,400, increasing by 400 from the previous report and rising by 3,500 during the past twelve months. Luzerne County has 14,800 civilians unemployed, increasing by 300 from the previous report but dropping by 200 from one year ago.

Wyoming County’s unemployment rate increased by three-tenths of a percentage point for the previous report and dropped by eight-tenths of a percentage point from twelve months ago. The County has a civilian labor force of 14,500, unchanged from the previous report with 1,300 unemployed, increasing by 100 from the previous report but dropping by 100 from twelve months ago.

General Dynamics lays-off workers at both local plants

07.12.12

JULY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

General Dynamics lays-off workers at both local plants

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 23rd- Workers employed at the two General Dynamics operated plants in Lackawanna County has continued to face lay-offs because of the budget cuts in defense spending.

Officials of the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry, Bureau of Workplace Development Partnership recently held a meeting with the laid-off employees of General Dynamics Land Systems plant in Eynon, which reconditions parts for the United States Army M1A1 battle tank, and the General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems plant in South Scranton, which primarily manufactures casings for military projectiles. The plant has produced military protectiles for the Army since the Vietnam era.

The workers at the Enyon plant are represented by the United Auto Workers of America (UAW) Union Local 1193. Local 1193 had approximately 200 members employed at the Eynon plant in 2010, however more than 75 workers have been laid-off or notified they will be with many told maybe permanently due to cut-backs in defense spending in Washington, DC. The M1A1 tank was used in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ken Klinkel, President of Local 1193 attended the most recent meeting of the Department of Labor, Bureau of Workplace Development Rapid Response Team, which includes officials of agencies that assist laid-off or soon to be laid-off workers in gaining new employment, signing-up for unemployment benefits, and explaining to them other programs that are available to help them with the job loss. The meeting was held at the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) District Council 87 union building in Dunmore and all effected workers of the two plants were invited to attend.

Mr. Klinkel stated more lay-offs are possible should the United States Department of Defense shut-down the tank program. He told the newspaper there is talk about shutting down the tank program for four years and then restarting it.

Meanwhile, approximately 17 employees of the Scranton plant were laid-off because of a decrease demand for elbows manufactured for the natural gas-drilling industry. The work for the industry has created jobs at the plant. The elbow manufacturing was obtained by the company in a attempt to gain work outside of the ammunition industry.

The International Association of Machinist (IAM) Union Local Lodge 847 in Scranton represents around 275 workers at the plant.

DOL continues to delay FLSAct for home care workers

07.12.12

JULY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

DOL continues to delay FLSAct for home care workers

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 30th- The United States Department of Labor (DOL) proposal to extend minimum wage and overtime protections under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSAct) to home care workers continues to meet resistance from for-profit home care providers companies.

The DOL proposed to revise the “companionship exemption” under the FLSAct. Currently, home care workers are excluded from receiving the federal minimum wage and receiving overtime payments despite the industry being so profitable.

Recently it was the five-year anniversity of the United States Supreme Court decision (Long Island Home Care v. Evelyn Coke) and the DOL has yet to release its final regulation that would provide federal minimum wage and overtime protections to the nation’s 2.5 million home care workers.

According to the Bronx, New York headquartered Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), the DOL proposal to extend 2.5 million home care workers minimum wage and overtime protections will strengthen the infrastructure for home and community-based services, assuring access to affordable, quality care.

“The millions of women who provide these services are no different from those who work in similar jobs in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. There is absolutely no justification for continuing to treat these workers as casual companions, exempting them from basic labor protections that most American workers have enjoyed for over 70 years,” stated Deane Beebe PHI Media Relations Director. Home care workers were first excluded from the federal law in 1974.

Ms. Beebe stated providing home care is a thriving $84 billion industry with it being the nation’s fastest growing occupation, expected to grow to over 3 million workers by 2020. “Yet these workers, who are 90 percent female with a median age of 45, continue to be treated in the same fashion as teenage babysitters. Home care, however, is a true vocation, and should be treated as such under the law,” added Ms. Beebe.

Recently the companies that are benefiting from industry released several studies that suggest that the proposed regulations will have a negative impact on businesses, consumers, and workers. However, the PHI stated the findings are “seriously flawed.”

For example, the industry-funded surveys were neither nationally representative nor statistically valid. The surveys emphasized opinion questions that were phrased to lead respondents to answers that align with the opposition to the proposed regulations.

The home care industry has doubled its revenues over the last decade and the for-profit segment is making huge profits but is resisting providing minimum wage or overtime protections.

“On December 15th, 2011, President Obama announced that the United States Department of Labor would finally guarantee minimum wage and overtime protections to millions of home care workers who care for Americans, young and old, who need assistance to remain independent and part of their communities. With a need for 3 million more workers to provide these services by 2020, we cannot rely on the undervalued, contingent workforce. Quality care demands quality jobs, beginning with a recognition that care work is “real” work. That means that it is time for home care workers to be treated like most other American workers and provided basic labor protections under FLSAct,” said PHI President Jodi Sturgeon.

Evelyn Coke, a New York home care worker, sued her employer for back pay when she discovered that, though she often worked long hours in her clients home, she never received overtime pay. Her case went to the United States Supreme Court, which ruled on June 11th, 2007, that because of the exemption of “companions to the elderly” under the FLSAct, Ms. Coke’s employer had done nothing illegal but the Court also ruled the DOL could reinterpret the “companionship exemption” to expand wage and hour protections to home care aides.

Verizon workers still without new labor agreements

07.12.12

JULY 2012 Scranton/Wilkes-Barre/Hazleton edition of The Union News

Verizon workers still without new labor agreements

BY PAUL TUCKER
THEUNIONNEWSSWB@AOL.COM

REGION, June 29th- Members of the Communications Workers of America (CWA) Union and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Union that are employees of Verizon are continuing to protest in front of selective stores of the corporate communications giant because of the failure of the parties to negotiate new collective bargaining agreements.

The CWA and IBEW members have been without a new labor agreement with Verizon since August 6th, 2011.

On August 7th, 2011, approximately 45,000 union Verizon workers, which included 35,000 workers represented by the CWA Local 13000 and CWA Local 13500 and 10,000 employees represented by IBEW, went on strike.

The union’s and Verizon were unable to reach an agreement because of managements insistence of give-backs and job cuts. The give-backs included higher healthcare benefit cost and jobs being outsourced to private contractors.

The workers returned to their jobs on August 23rd, 2011 without receiving new contracts but had the understanding negotiations would continue and the workers would work under the “terms and conditions” of the previous labor agreement.

The CWA and the IBEW felt working under the terms and conditions of the expired contract would be better for their members than agreeing to a “bad” contract in which pensions would be cut and current and retired employees health insurance would cost more.

According to CWA Local 1300, not much progress has been made at the bargaining table during the past six months and the one year anniversity date of the expired contract may be held without a successor pact being reached.